ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdish Peshmerga forces on Sunday reopened the Duhok - Zumar road, the last remaining closed one between the Kurdistan Region and disputed areas controlled by the federal government of Iraq since clashes erupted between the two sides in October 2017.
The move came one day after the reopening of the Sihela – Sinjar (Shingal) road, located near the Syrian border.
Skirmishes took place across other disputed territories, such as Kirkuk and Shingal, weeks after the Kurdistan Region held a referendum on independence, which Baghdad fiercely opposed and responded to with punitive measures, including a ban on international travel from airports in the Kurdistan Region.
“If the attack [by Iraqi forces and Shia militias] had not occurred in October 2017, this road, along with the others, would not have been closed for more than a year,” Ashti Kochar, the Kurdish head of security in charge of the western Tigris River areas, told Kurdistan 24 from the Zumar front line.
“The reopening of this road will considerably facilitate the transportation of goods and people from Duhok to Zumar and surrounding areas.”
He mentioned that Erbil had been in talks with Baghdad for the past three months to reopen the Sihela – Shingal and Duhok – Zumar roads.
The Duhok – Zumar road, however, has only been cleared on the Peshmerga forces’ side. Kochar, nevertheless, affirmed that Iraqi forces would also remove their trenches in the coming days as part of an agreement made between both sides.
Mayor of Zumar, Muzahim Saa’doun, told Kurdistan 24 that allowing traffic to return to the road was “an important move” for the people of Zumar, considerably cutting travel time and possibly encouraging displaced people currently living in the Kurdistan Region to return home.
Following the attack by Iraqi forces and Shia militias on Peshmerga front lines in October 2017, all roads connecting the Kurdistan Region to disputed areas under the control of the federal government of Iraq were shut down.
The Duhok – Zumar road had yet to be officially reopened, with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the federal government of Iraq only reaching a deal this month.
Editing by Nadia Riva
(Additional reporting by Islam Yusuf)